Noise pollution in Ho Chi Minh City has reached an alarming rate, posing serious health risks for local residents.
Statistics pooled from electric signs installed across the southern Vietnamese city have recently indicated that several areas are noisier than the limit of 70 decibels promulgated by local authorities.
At the Hang Xanh Intersection in Binh Thanh District, a large number of vehicles often fill the area early in the morning amid the thundering sound of engines and sirens.
A similar situation can also be noticed at the Dien Bien Phu Roundabout in District 1 during rush hour, exacerbated by the deafening music from high-capacity loudspeakers of restaurants and shops along the streets.
Other traffic junctions including An Suong Intersection in District 12 and Go Vap Roundabout in the namesake district are usually overwhelmed by high traffic pressure even at noon.
Nguyen Thi Thuy, the owner of a business on Dien Bien Phu Street in District 1, stated she had put up with the noise for decades.
“We have to learn to live with the din that lingers from the morning until late at night,” Thuy continued.
“Sound-proof walls and windows did not prove affective. My family and I have not been able to eat and sleep very well for a long time,” she added.
Nguyen Vinh An, a resident on Bach Dang Street near the Hang Xanh Intersection, expressed worry for his 60-year-old mother and young son.
“My mom’s health has deteriorated due to regular lack of sleep, while my child cannot focus on his homework because of the noisy surroundings,” An elaborated, adding that some of his neighbors had already sold their houses to resettle elsewhere.
According to Dr. Dang Duy Phuong, deputy head of the research department at the Ho Chi Minh City Heart Institute, people frequently exposed to loud sound tend to have symptoms including insomnia, stress, exhaustion, and even heart failure.
Doan Van Tan, deputy director of the Management Center of the Saigon River Tunnel, which operates the electric information signs, confirmed that sound at many places in the city has exceeded the recommended volume.
While the limit suggested by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is 70 decibels, noise levels at eight major traffic junctions across the southern hub range between 71 and 83.5 decibels, Tan explained.
According to Vo Khanh Hung, deputy director of the municipal Department of Transport, the number of motorcycles and cars in the city has topped eight million as of June, placing immense pressure on traffic infrastructure and creating serious air and noise pollution.
Competent agencies will first discuss measures to alleviate the problems at the mentioned traffic hotspots.
In a bid to deal with the loud sound, vehicles should be checked regularly, Dr. Phung Chi Sy, an official of the Vietnam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment, said, adding that those with noise problems should be equipped with a reduction system.
More trees should be planted on traffic routes to help ease the din, Sy added.
Some experts suggested that drivers only honk sirens when necessary, while others stated local authorities should formulate a plan to lower the number of personal vehicles.